We had a great time camping in the mountains with my mom and step-dad over the weekend. We stayed in our camper, and they rented a cabin. I have a lot of great childhood memories staying at this park, so it was a lot of fun sharing some of the same experiences with my own children. We hiked to the top of the mountain on Saturday before it got too hot. We saw an Indian wall and a beautiful view. Then Cole and Alex had fun climbing on the huge rocks. Mike cooked us a big low-country boil for supper. Yummy! Today on the way home we stopped at the lake for a picnic lunch and some swimming.
Now we are home and starting to get ready for the week ahead. This is our last week of summer break, but Anna Grace's sitter will start part-time this week so that she can adjust more easily.
Anna Grace is learning new English words everyday. She understands a lot of what we say. Instead of nodding her head up and down to say yes, she raises her eyebrows up and down. She is so funny! She calls our dog "Harlo" (Harley) and she asks for her "shotion" (lotion) after her bath. She is also starting to put two words together. She says "I eat" when she is hungry, and she said "I poop!!" the other day in the bathtub. Yikes! Actually, her potty training is going really well, and she wears underwear during the day. We will go back to the physical therapist this week to find out how much progress she is making with her motor skills. She is still behind, but she is slowly learning to throw a ball and climb the stairs.
As summer is winding down, we have been spending as much time playing as possible. Before long, I will have to go back to work and the boys will start back to school. We have hired a sitter to come to the house to stay with Anna Grace so that she will have fewer transitions. In fact, our sitter is going to start part-time next week so that Anna Grace can get to know her before I have to leave. I am sad that I will not have as much time with her and the boys once school starts, but we are trying to make every minute count. I am planning to take each boy on a special shopping trip to buy school supplies next week. We have also been spending extra time playing card games and going to the park. We went to the pool this morning, and just as we were about to leave, Anna Grace stepped on a bee. She still had the bee stuck to her foot as we went running for the bee sting kit at the life guard station. I am finding that it is a scary thing to have no knowledge of Anna Grace's family medical history. She is taking a nap right now, but the bottom of her foot is red and has some swelling.
We celebrated Cole's 9th birthday Friday with a camping party. He decided that this year he wanted to have a few boys over to camp out in the backyard, so we pitched tents and built a camp fire. It was also my nephew's 11th birthday, and he came over to help celebrate. Cole and Kyle had not seen each other in a long time until recently, but they get along really well. The boys had fights with silly string, played flashlight tag, and ate hamburgers, hot dogs, s'mores over the fire, and cake. Mike even put one of our neighbors up to making a bear call and sneaking around the backs of the houses to scare the boys just as it was getting dark! The boys were all running around with flashlights trying to find the bear. This was perfect since there really have been some bear sightings in our area lately.
Everyone was having a great time until it was bedtime and Cole had the glow-in-the-dark chemicals from a glowstick explode all over his face and in his eyes. He was screaming so loud from inside his tent that we thought there was a snake in there and the other boys got so scared that they wanted to go home. The only boys that actually slept outside were the two littlest ones (Alex and Sasha) who slept through the whole thing inside the camper. It was a great party, but we were all very tired Saturday.
Cole decided to use his birthday money to buy a little electric dirtbike. He has been riding it all over the backyard with his friend who also has one. At first I was really worried about getting a dirtbike, but then I saw how small it is, and we decided that he could have it if he did not ride it on the road. My mom says that she is not responsible for any injuries since she is the one that gave him most of the money to buy it!
It is still hard to believe that Cole turned 9. It seems like just yesterday that he was this little 5 pound baby who suprised us all by coming early. Cole will be in 4th grade this year- only 2 more years until he will be at the middle school with me. He has grown into a little man. He is becoming more responsible and mature every day. I told my mom that I wish we could just hit the "pause" button and keep our kids at ages 9, 7, and 2. I do not want them to grow up, but I know that they will. I am trying to remind myself to cherish them every day and remember that spending time with them is much more important than dishes or laundry. I will have to return to work in just a few weeks, and I really worry about how I will find the right amount of time to spend with each child.
We spent our weekend camping in the mountains for the 4th of July. We had fireworks Saturday and Sunday night, a golf cart parade Sunday after church, and lots of time to spend as a family. Anna Grace did not like the fireworks very much, but she did love riding in the golf cart with the banner that Cole and Alex made that said "Proud to be an American." Harley (our dog) was even dressed in his Uncle Sam hat for the parade! Cole and Alex enjoyed playing in the creek at the camp and making a dam for one of our camping neighbors.
Anna Grace's hair is finally getting long enough that I can pull it back into 2 little pigtails in the back! I have waited for so long to have a little girl's hair to fix. When we received our referral pictures, Anna Grace's head had been shaved and she had no hair. But, her foster mom allowed her hair to grow since then, and I think the good nutrition that Anna Grace has been getting in the last month has been helping her hair grow even faster. I can not wait to finally be able to put her hair up into little braids.
Today we went to a park to swim in a lake with our adoption group. This was the first time that Anna Grace met some of the other Chinese kids in our area. She instantly made friends with one of the older girls. Anna Grace does not let very many people hold her- especially not people that she has just met. However, she instantly allowed Lydia to play with her on the playground and carry her around. I think Anna Grace was happy to see someone who looked like her.
As I am typing this, Anna Grace is "helping" me with the laundry. She has filled my underwear drawer with clean washcloths, pushed a laundry basket around the house filled with folded clean clothes and dropped them off in each room, and scattered wet beach towels throughout the living room! I sure am glad that she is so helpful!